Taking Advantage of the Sun

There are a lot of ways to take advantage of the sun and pay less because you use less electrical power from the utility companies.

Living in Florida, you can count on the sun to be nearly a continuous companion. This provides Floridians a distinct opportunity to use solar radiation for good. In July, a trip around Tampa shed some light on the subject of solar energy houses. We checked out houses that utilized both active and passive solar energy, thermal hot water systems, and other environmentally and economically friendly functions.

Active solar technology is the one that many people recognize. It involves having a solar panel that gathers the sun’s energy and transforms it into electrical power. These types of solar systems have a battery where energy is stored, so electrical power can still be utilized at night, and, and even on cloudy days.

Solar panels are an outstanding method to make electricity, specifically in remote locations. While they are moderately pricey to establish, and do require very little upkeep, they offer totally free and dependable electricity, even in climates far less bright than Florida’s.

Passive solar technologies are far older than active ones, and involve using the natural heat and light the sun exudes, without transforming it in any other way. Have you ever observed at the end of a long, hot day, south-facing rocks, pavement or brick and adobe buildings will radiate heat? They have actually spent the day passively collecting solar power, and are radiating it. Some products are better at taking in and storing that heat than others. For example, wood insulates, indicating it will obstruct temperature levels, whereas stone will absorb and radiate temperature levels.

Residences that are developed to make the most of passive solar are often constructed of concrete, adobe or brick. Cob is another passive-solar-friendly and ancient structure product that is going through a revival of sorts. It is made of sand, clay and straw, similar ingredients as adobe, but adobe is baked into bricks and stacked, whereas cob structures are free-formed while the product is wet. Passive solar houses usually have a lot of windows lining their south walls, and less so their east and west walls, with little to no windows on the cooler north sides. These windows do 2 things. They offer natural light inside the home, one element of passive solar. Second, they allow heat to come into the home. If the house has a stone tile flooring and even walls, that tile will soak up the heat, radiating it later when the outside temperature level drops.

Passive solar homes can be designed to be cool in summer while using the sun to warm them in winter. If shutters are closed during summer season months, the home will stay much cooler. Also, the height and angle of overhang can be considered to optimize the windows exposure to low winter sun, but lessen exposure to the high summer sun. Alternatively, I saw a fascinating example of somebody planting deciduous trees on the south side of their home. In the winter, the trees had no leaves therefore let in a lot of light and heat. In the summer, their thick plant offered shade that kept the house cool.

So that is the significant distinction between active and passive solar innovations. Given that passive solar is essentially free, it would be sensible for any designer or house designer to take it into consideration when constructing brand-new homes. Well designed passive solar houses can greatly lower their electrical energy requirements. And while active solar is fantastic technology, it still takes numerous resources to create. Plus, it may be superfluous in a location with an existing electrical source.

When it comes to thermal water heating, it too is a very easy idea. Homemade thermal hot water heaters can be as basic as an outdoor water tank painted black, however that’s a little crude for the majority of tastes. Nevertheless, there are a range of designs out there. Some have panels that are metal painted black and enclosed with glass, with copper pipes filled with water running through them. This water will heat up, and is then pressed by gravity into an insulated tank. Some solar water heaters utilize a similar set-up but with tubes filled with anti-freeze that are then linked to a heat transfer loop, where water in a storage tank is warmed. Whatever system you use, thermal water heating is surprisingly effective.

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